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DNR Sued Over White Bear Lake Levels

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WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minn. (WCCO) — The dock tells the story of White Bear Lake, ending way before reaching water.

Or take a look at the nearby boat lift, left high and dry.

“Our side of the bay isn’t as bad as the Yacht Club,” said Kristen Egan. “But it just keeps going down, and it’s been unfortunate.”

It’s been a problem for years. The water level is down 5.5 feet since 2003.

“I know that every summer, we pushed our dock back farther,” Egan said. “And more lake shore has been revealed over the last seven years.”

And now some citizens are trying to do something about it.

“This isn’t a lawsuit seeking to get money, due to property value declines, or anything like that,” said Jan Conlin, an attorney for the White Bear Lake Restoration Association. “This lawsuit is solely focused on fixing the lake.”

The White Bear Lake Restoration Association is a group of residents and businessmen using a state law enacted in 1971 that lets citizens sue the state for environmental protection.

“One way to make sure that natural resources are protected, is to give citizens a right to sue,” Conlin said. “And to address when natural resources can be impaired or destroyed.”

They’re using a report from the U.S. Geological Survey that says groundwater drilling in nearby areas has doubled since 1980, draining the aquifer, and lowering the lake level. So they want the DNR to cut back on drilling permits, and get water elsewhere.

“The St. Paul Water Authority has nine billion gallons of excess water per year,” Conlin said. “That could easily be used to augment the lake, or to remedy some of the drilling problems that are going on.”

WCCO contacted the DNR. A spokesperson says they’re still reviewing the suit, and have no immediate comment.

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